2019 Dalat Ultra Trail 70km: Twice Charmed

Dalat Ultra Trail
Coffee plantations and the gradual rolling hills at Dalat Ultra Trail

There aren’t many destinations I returned to race more than once, back-to-back. It must’ve made a great impression beyond simply “yeah, I like it”. Dalat Ultra Trail is a classic example. If the French made Dalat the holiday spot back then due to its cooler climate, pine-scented and highland mountain air, it surely more than wonderful to me – an ultra runner who whinges daily on humid climate she has to train with.

Strolling my way down to the lakeside where the race expo was held through legendary Dalat Palace’s tiered garden, it felt wonderful being back. The race expo though wasn’t as vibrant as last year, I thought.

Dalat Ultra
Awesome to be back here. Quick pose at legendary Dalat Palace.

Looking for dinner, we walked to the nearby night market and checked out few restaurants. Didn’t found any suitable place that serves carb-worthy food. Instead, I bought some local avocados (they were creamy) and made peace with pasta at the hotel.Then, went to sleep early as we got to catch the 3am bus that will take runners to start line.

Dalat City
Dalat city at sunset

2019 Dalat Ultra saw few elites from Asia Trail Master championship such as John Ellis and Kim Matthews. The 70km course was a reverse to 2018 course i.e. begin with hills and end with relatively flat. We waited for some time in the dark and cold morning before the race kick off at 4am. Ran in dark for few hours before I witnessed the most beautiful sunrise illuminating the magical pine forest. Serene and calm, this lifted my spirit.

Dalat Ultra
When sun up illuminating the silent pine forest.

As day got brighter, I recognised some of the routes from last year. The stream crossing via wooden bridge, the vast green field, the red dirt gravel track, coffee plantations, and steep hills/downhills. It turned out to be a warm day and I saw few female local runners covering their head – not an uncommon thing to see on the street of Vietnam where people covering themselves from top to toe during hot day. But, what not to love about this trail? Other than the ferocious looking buffaloes, things turned out well, so far.

Dalat Ultra
Buffaloes were in the middle of trail before moving to the side.

Reaching tarmac, I recalled a different road than las t year. Shuffled down to a valley that brought us to a lovely checkpoint at Lana Estate in the middle of tranquility. A new chalet surrounded with newly planted lavender and rose bushes. I made a toilet stop here, very civilised for us trail runners!

The route to beautiful Laan Estate

Shuffled downhill very carelessly trying to chase Mr E whom somehow managed to cut. I accidentally tripped and fell off – the body landed completely on a downward slope. Not much damage done here but small tear on lower lip as the teeth kissed the gravel and a 20 cents bruise on left waist from impact of bone hitting the ground hard. Thankfully, two local runners pulled me from behind to get me up. ‘Rest for a while’, said one of them. But I continued on.

Dalat Ultra
70km of happy run. Picture Courtesy of Dalat Ultra Trail

The final stretch tarmac was encouraging as we saw many runners from other distances converged, not to mention that attention grabbing Rexona posters. At the last long hill that required all my energy, I slowed down and as the result few female runners passed me. No worries, I had no reservation and happy with 11th place (2nd in age group). Overall quicker by 11 minutes than last year!

Dalat Ultra Trail
Dalat Ultra 2019 70km Finishers – writer and Mr E. Picture Courtesy of Dalat Ultra Trail

Another race in Dalat I enjoyed massively and twice charmed by this magical land. Echoing the banner at the race expo, ‘Running is like coffee. I’m much stronger after I’ve finished one’.

Dalat Ultra
Coffee mantra at the race expo.

STAY

Du Parc Hotel Dalat based on yours truly pleasant stay – twice of being the guest, therefore came highly recommended! Nearby race expo at Lam Vien Square about 500m walk. Dalat Palace Heritage Hotel would be a grand stay not far away or check out Ngoc Phat Dalat Hotel being recommended to me by one of the organiser.

Du Parc Hotel nearby Dalat Ultra race expo.

GETTING THERE

Fly with Vietnam Airlines via Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) where overnight stay required and early morning flight the next day to Dalat. Get the minibus at the airport upon arrival to go to Dalat city. The ticket can be purchased near the baggage area.

More details: Dalat Ultra Trail. On 2018 race and more on Dalat here.

Have you raced in Vietnam? Will you consider trail running in Dalat?

Live to thrive,

SOTG.x

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